Bob Connors has a unique approach to marketing his farm-stand in light of the fledgling economy: family fun, farm style.
In recent years, the owner of Connors Farm on Valley Street in Danvers had begun to branch out in terms of the public, beyond the traditional pick-your-own fruit, apple picking and hayrides the farm was known for, offering a wider range of services such as school field trips and corporate outings.
He also opened the wildly popular haunted corn maze, which some may recall garnered unexpected national interest last year when .
But in an effort to stay just ahead of the economy, and following a perceived trend in the industry, Connors refers to as Agri-tainment, he stepped up efforts in 2010 to make the farm more accessible to folks of all ages by offering complete Birthday Party Packages at the farm.
“We figured we were missing the boat and jumped on board," Connors explained.
By incorporating a barn-style function area behind the farm-stand near the pond, peddle carts, farm animal feeding area, bounce house, spider web-inspired climbing structure and most recently a $20,000 bounce pillow, Connors has seemingly hit a home-run with his inspired take on a good old fashioned, outdoor, getting back to nature birthday party.
“The adults like the bounce pillow as much as the kids,” he laughed.
Connors continued, “We had over a hundred parties in the fall, last year, with at least ten to twelve each weekend. We tailor each party to the customer.. from pumpkin painting to pony rides.”
Rich Potter, longtime associate and friend of the Connors family who grew up on land abutting the farm, handles all of the birthday party details. According to Potter, “Each party is different. I spend a reasonable amount of time with families to adapt the party to their needs. People are happy to be out here, it’s a nice setting, and the kids get to run around-in a word it’s just fun-sounds corny, but it’s true!”
Each birthday party through Sept. 7, includes the birthday party barn, which can accommodate up to fitfty guests; an assigned party coordinator to help with all of the initial planning, and stays with the party from beginning to end. Activities include feeding the animals, sandbox, duck races, bouncy house and pillow, peddle carts, private hayride, invitations and paper goods/utensils.
Food, cake and ice cream, additional hayrides and a multitude of additional activities are made available for additional fees.
Parties run 7 days a week, from May 1-Oct. 31, in three time slots, 10:30am to 12:30pm, 1:00pm to 3:00pm and 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Reservations are required to book. All forms, facts and info is available online at www.connorsfarm.com
The 140 acre farm includes eight greenhouses and prides itself on the wide variety and freshness of it’s produce. “We have pick your own raspberries, strawberries, apples and pumkins,” Potter stated. “...and it’s almost peach season. The peaches are the best, just come by and try one, they are amazing!”
The farm-stand still offers a wide variety of produce from “A-Z, plus we have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), with a dedicated group of customers whom we cherish.”
According to Connors, the CSA Program is a prepaid weekly produce and fruit pick-up that runs for 18 weeks. “We have such a diverse selection of crops, there’s no way these customers ever lose out...they’re awesome people who really understand how it all works.”
As a working farm that has continued to thrive since 1904, Connors Farm has had great success adapting to change over time. In the 1950’s the family switched from a wholesale operation to opening up their own retail farm stand due to the drop in the price of corn, which had been the farms mainstay.
Today, with their focus on the family and branching out to fit their needs, Connors Farm hopes to continue to be a destination for generations to come.